It was announced last month by ‘videoDoc’, an online health care organisation, that for the 2018/19 academic year, all online consultations delivered via their doctors will be free for all student members of the Union of Students in Ireland.
The service has been brought in in conjunction with the USI and will make medically certified doctors available 7 days a week, from 8am until 10pm. To celebrate the launch of the service, ‘videoDoc’ are also running a competition for those who download their app, where students can win a brand new car worth €14,740.
The announcement comes at an important time for many students, who simply cannot afford to pay for a consultation with a local GP if they do not have access to a medical card. With rising rent levels in accommodation as well as car insurance, the news will be welcomed by the third-level fraternity. In response to the new service, the USI President, Síona Cahill, has said, “we are delighted to partner with videoDoc to provide free online doctor healthcare to our members, alongside existing services on campuses. With the high cost of living and accommodation being the main factor in student poverty, our students can now rest assured that if they get sick they can be seen in minutes by using videoDoc.”
Not only does this give security to full-time students living on campus or around Cork but also to part-time students, those who are on Erasmus and also to people on work placement. According to statistics released from ‘videoDoc’, 71% of students who used their service earlier this year admitted that had they not been able to access the free consultation they would have avoided going to a local GP due to cost and inconvenience. 7% of those surveyed also said that had the service not existed, going to an A&E would have been their only option. Speaking in relation to the findings of the survey, CEO and co-founder of ‘videoDoc’, Mary O’Brien, said, “it was worrying to see such a high figure of students waiting for their symptoms to improve rather than seeing a doctor before their discovery of videoDoc. Students can been seen by a videoDoc doctor within a matter of minutes and a prescription sent to a pharmacy of their choice for immediate collection.”
In most cases students come forward with some common complaints which include; acne, acute bronchitis, anxiety, depression, contraception and tonsillitis. According to ‘videoDoc’ the most common enquiry from students is access to contraception.
It has been assured that patients will be seen within minutes and if prescriptions are provided they will be available to collect from any pharmacy that the patient requests. Moreover, the organisation has claimed that it has a strong commitment to quality and security. On their website it outlines such a statement, “videoDoc takes its role as a best in practice provider of online healthcare seriously, with patient care being supported by proprietary clinical pathways which aid doctors in delivering a comprehensive service. All videoDoc doctors are registered with the Irish Medical Council, with at least two years on the Specialist Register, and have been fully trained to provide remote health services. videoDoc meets the requirements of GDPR regulations.”